Oddments

In search of story


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August 10.20: Coping

“The malignant air of calumny has taken possession of all ranks and societies of people in this place…The rich, the poor, the high professor and the prophane, seem all to be infected with this grievous disorder, so that the love of our neighbor seems to be quite banished, the love of self and opinions so far prevails….The enemies of our present struggle…are grown even scurrilous to individuals, and treat all characters who differ from them with the most opprobrious language.”

According to David McCullough’s book “John Adams,” Christopher Marshall wrote the above in 1776.

Perhaps spellings have changed, and maybe vocabularies have weakened a bit, and maybe also “social media” is no longer the handwritten letter, but otherwise Mr. Marshall would not be much surprised, it would seem, by any of the news accounts today. So I pass it along to you, dear reader, for what it’s worth, and I leave it to you whether to laugh or to cry.

 

 


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June 26.20: Coping

Well, dear reader, here it is again: writer’s block/slump/wasteland — call it what you will. I’ve been a big blank for over a week now. Yesterday I spent hours on a thought, trying to transfer it to words. I think I wore out the delete key.

What a mystery writing is. Not that I’m telling you anything you don’t know. Why do the words come and why do they not come? Where do they go, for heaven’s sakes?

I’ve not caught a glimpse of my muse, except perhaps in a particularly muscular buzzard, a.k.a. turkey vulture, hauling roadkill into the woods. Usually she’s a hawk, but she could have morphed. Right now I’d happily call her a buzzard. Now there’s a word. Don’t you love words that mean something just by the way they sound? Have you ever seen the book “Sound and Sense” by Laurence Perrine? My tattered, moldy copy dates back to my college days in the 60s. It says it’s about poetry but I don’t think so; it’s about the way the sound of a word makes it the perfect choice. Meaning isn’t the whole of it. The word must sound with the meaning. That’s prose, too. Just ask Sam Clemens.

I hope you are well, dear reader, and can still cling to sanity.

 


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Connections: November 12.17

My bedroom. Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart.

And do I hear “been there, done that,” dear reader?

What I want to reflect on, though, isn’t the chaos. It’s the book on the bed. Throughout all this mayhem, I’ve spent a few minutes every night with this book. Fittingly, I finished it on Veterans’ Day.

The book is “Tail-End Charley,” by James E. Brown, who kept a journal during his time as an Army Air Corps pilot. A kid who grew up quickly in the skies over World War II. To me it was fascinating, not just for the story in it but for the story about it.

Jim Brown wrote a book based on his journal, but it wasn’t published. Fast forward to 2017. His son, Gary, a writer also, took that manuscript and made it happen. He and his wife, my writing mate Tamara, and their daughter, a graphic artist, did it. They self-published and this handsome paperback is the result.

It is very personal, not just because it is first-person, but because it is brought to the world by his family.

I never met Jim Brown, but, boy, do I feel as though I know him! Underneath his descriptions of planes and places flows his understated narrative about himself, subtle and steady. In my opinion, his understatement is consistent with his generation and when he allows us a glimpse into his own feelings its rarity makes for eloquence.

I recommend this book, not because I know and like Jim’s family (I do), and not because I love reading about war (I don’t), but because of the down-home skinny kid who reveals himself in it.

 


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Connections: June 27.17

The library was a bike ride away

back in the day

bumping up

oof

and down

ow

the curbs

back in the day

my kingdom for a basket!

handlebars and books

precarious one-girl circus

back in the day

a tiny place, that library

in a big summer

and the books whispered

take me for a ride on your bike

to that cushy old blanketed couch

in  your cool damp basement

and don’t forget

what this was like

back in the day.

 

 

 

 

Thanks again to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

And thanks also to the Poquoson Library, Virginia, and all libraries!

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Connections: April 21

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Tuck this in your docket

a poem for your pocket

a sonnet for your vest

or line of anapest

today in bits of paper

in literary caper

we raise a silent cry

against the plain and dry

and summon muses hence

with their accoutrements

metaphor and simile

rhythm light and nimble-y

poetry’s declaration

of determined preservation.

Happy Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day, dear reader!

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Connections: March 23

10-09 - Black Forest - 300 year old barnIf this be barn

I think to myself

the cows are milked

by gnome and elf.

Can such an otherworld

storybook mime

really exist

in this place and time?

If I tiptoe around

not touchin’, just lookin’

would someone say Kommen Sie

for warm apfelkuchen?

Would Goethe move over

the Grimm Brothers share?

Could I touch a past

so reverenced there?

More thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.

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